Blount to seek proposals to operate animal shelter Short-term deal to use Loudon facilities a possible solution

January 15, 2007

MARYVILLE - The Blount County Commission's Animal Control Committee will recommend that the county move to seek proposals from any group interested in operating an animal shelter with support from the county.

The document, known as an RFP, would lay out procedures for offering a proposal and set criteria for the operation of the shelter, including providing trained staff, boarding facilities for the animals and proof of financial viability.

The RFP also would require that the applicant adhere to all applicable state laws regarding animal shelters.

The committee approved the RFP at its meeting last week. About 30 people viewed the proceedings.

The county is seeking both a short-term and long-term solution to its lack of animal-control service, which terminated when the county's contract with the city of Maryville expired Dec. 31.

If an acceptable proposal is generated by the RFP, the long-term component of the solution will be on its way toward realization. But the opening of a shelter could be as much as two years away, commissioners and animal supporters agree.

Steven Phipps, president of the Blount County Humane Society, offered a possible short-term plan at Wednesday's meeting, suggesting that Blount County come to a temporary agreement with a neighboring county to take in Blount's animals for a fee until the shelter can be established.

Blount County Mayor Jerry Cunningham said he had been in touch with his counterpart in Loudon County, Doyle Arp, and that he believes such an agreement can be worked out between the two counties.

Both the RFP and a resolution approving the partnership with Loudon County may be presented to the full commission at its meeting Thursday.

It is believed that if the commission approves the plans, the short-term plan could go into effect almost immediately and that a proposal for the construction and operation of a shelter could be approved at its February meeting.